Earlier this week, we heard that Total Recall: The Musical might be in the works from musical mad scientists Jon and Al Kaplan. And it got us thinking: Aren’t action movies actually the perfect screen-to-stage fodder? They’ve got the whiz-bang special effects (smoke machines! lasers! robot enemies/protagonists!) and the marvelously hammy plots, not to mention the tragically misunderstood heroes and their overblown monologues. In fact, some action movies are downright operatic. As anyone who’s seen Hamlet 2 can attest, there have been worse musical ideas. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Bruce Willis belt out an aria about the perils of dismantling a bomb? After the jump, we present ten action movies that would make wonderfully awful Broadway attractions.
1. Die Hard
It’s a heartwarming tale of a cop who singlehandedly brings down a group of vaguely European terrorists in time to make it to Christmas dinner and reunite with his estranged wife. Not only would the solo songs be fantastic — just imagine John McClane belting out a number about the hostage situation — but the Teutonic villains would make an excellent backup dance crew/chorus just chanting “Schnell!” and “Scheisse!”
A law-enforcing cyborg as Christ figure? Check. Sweeping themes about the dangers of technology and corruption of humankind? Check. RoboCop would be musical theater paradise. As a possible bonus, “Your move, creep” would make a great poster tagline.
Two enemies trading identities has been a theater trope since before Shakespeare — Face/Off — just adds magnet prisons and face transplants to the mix. In the dream version, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage would have a beatbox battle at the finale, but we might just settle for having John Woo direct a musical.
4. Con Air
Criminals taking over an airplane became a lot less funny — and unlikely — in the years since Con Air came out, but that just makes the musical all the more politically relevant. This movie is bad in all the right ways: It has the con with the heart of gold and the creepy serial killer who sings with little girls.
It would be sort of like The Little Mermaid, if Ariel were Kevin Costner and the sea was actually a post-apocalyptic flooded world filled with pirates on jet skis who use handfuls of dirt as currency.
6. True Lies
It’s one of James Cameron’s less lauded works, but True Lies is also the first movie that dared cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as a spy instead of a rock-em-sock-em vigilante. It’s just the kind of complicated, James Bond-esque tale that might translate to the stage — domestic troubles plus international intrigue!
7. The Rock
If you ask us, an Alcatraz musical has been a long time coming. You’re stuck on an island full of murderers? The only logical answer is to sing about it. Just the voiceover in the trailer below should be enough to convince Julie Taymor to do the book for this one.
8. Crimson Tide
A submarine also seems like an ideal setting for a musical — all that tension in such a small space, and the threat of nuclear holocaust could yield some juicy back-and-forth numbers. This should mostly happen so the Village People can do the soundtrack.
9. Air Force One
Obama is great and all, but, thanks to this movie, if Harrison Ford were on the ballot, we’d totally vote for him. Besides, a “There Are No Airborne Scenarios” production number is sure to be a hit.
10. Lethal Weapon
It already has a pretty bitchin’ Casiotone soundtrack, and it’s one of the best examples of a buddy-cop film in the past 30 years. Plus, the wisecracking Mel Gibson-Danny Glover team would be pure gold on Broadway.